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Episode 1739 Talkback - Comic Talk

You'll get a Tom King two-fer in this captivating Comic Talk episode, as we address 1.) the fan-favorite writer's impending departure from the monthly Batman series, and 2.) the finale of his Heroes in Crisis miniseries. Not to mention some sparkling discussion of Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, more on the Marvel/Netflix situation, and other bright bursts of badinage. (1:37:39)

Listen here.

Comments

  • DARDAR Posts: 1,115
    Just listened to the Tom King portion so far. But it should also be mentioned he’s co-writing the New Gods movie that Ava DuVernay is directing
  • i_am_scifii_am_scifi Posts: 615

    Yeah @DAR that news came out the day after we recorded this one, so we'll be sure to address it next Comic Talk!

  • JDickJDick Posts: 206
    edited June 4

    Great episode!

    In regard to DC I don’t think it can be underestimated the removal of Geoff Johns as CCO. He was clearly going to something with Rebirth and Doomsday Clock but he isn’t really driving the bus anymore and to have Rebirth 2 years ago and now Heroes in Crisis it’s obvious that DC has decided to abandon whatever Johns was going to do with Rebirth. It’s almost like whiplash the way Wally West has been jerked around. DC just seems a adrift right now.

  • DARDAR Posts: 1,115
    edited June 5
    When Disney+ becomes available I’ll likely do an MCU rewatch like @ShaneKelly is currently doing
  • BrackBrack Posts: 799
    ProtonDan said:

    Just swooning "Tom King... OOOHHH!" isn't enough.

    It's an improvement from swooning over the past 20 years of bad James Robinson comics.

    Tom King is Grant Morrison for squares. Needed to do more psychedelics and less psyops.

    That being said, I am in agreement that it is likely that the AT&T/Warner changes are the cause for him being ousted, because the dates line up and I have been seeing negative effects of that restructuring elsewhere (Crunchyroll).
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 6,305
    Brack said:

    Tom King is Grant Morrison for squares. Needed to do more psychedelics and less psyops.

    Nah, that's a bad comparison. Their strengths lie in completely different areas. Tom’s strengths lie in quiet moments, character introspection, and humor derived from sadness. Grant’s strengths lie in grand concepts, wild imagination, and creating characters none of us are cool enough to hang out with. Completely different writers in almost every way.
  • BrackBrack Posts: 799
    edited June 5

    Brack said:

    Tom King is Grant Morrison for squares. Needed to do more psychedelics and less psyops.

    Nah, that's a bad comparison. Their strengths lie in completely different areas. Tom’s strengths lie in quiet moments, character introspection, and humor derived from sadness. Grant’s strengths lie in grand concepts, wild imagination, and creating characters none of us are cool enough to hang out with. Completely different writers in almost every way.
    The reason I make the comparison is King is one of the few DC writers who picks up Morrison's themes and ideas.

    And they have both written hugely disappointing Mr Miracle mini-series.

    King and Morrison are both guilty of pouring too much of themselves into their superhero comics, often to the comics' detriment.

    In King's case it's writing superheroes as stand-ins for whatever complex feelings he has about his former role in the military-industrial complex. In Morrison's case it's fiction-suits and using comics as chaos magick in some one-sided proxy metafictional war with Alan Moore (and more recently Mark Millar).

    King's even made a joke about this on twitter
  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 286
    edited June 6
    I can't imagine DuVernay sticking with the hellish conditions on Apokolips being primarily the result of one purely evil dictator. I expect at least some of the denizens of New Genesis will somehow be responsible. I'm not that familiar with the New Gods. Did Kirby ever intend the inhabitants of the two planets to be a metaphor for race relations? Given the kinds of projects DuVernay has taken on and her tendency to reduce complex issues like stricter drug laws down to racial animus and conspiracy, I'm guessing that's the direction this project will take.
  • BryanBryan Posts: 109
    Two things:

    Anyone who hasn’t seen endgame yet and still cares about spoilers, there are some towards the end of the episode.

    Second, re: the impending demise of comic books as we know them, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone on the show mention TKO studios? Maybe you did and I missed it. They seem to be going in the direction you’re expecting, with entire story arcs being released at once. Multiple formats rather than just trades, but still very much in the vein oh what @wildpigcomics was talking about. They offer trade, digital, or box sets of single issues. I picked up Sara by Ennis, Epting, and Breitweiser this weekend (tho I haven’t read it yet). Lemire has an upcoming book through them as well.

    As a bonus, they are currently doing a 2 for 1 sale on their web store, and this include preorders.
  • Mark_EngblomMark_Engblom Posts: 343
    edited June 6
    Re: Tom King

    It was pretty remarkable that a relative newcomer to the business like King was allowed an 85 issue run with a publisher's number one property. Rather than begrudging DC's business moves during a very difficult sales environment and a rapidly changing retail landscape, I think it's more helpful to cut everyone some slack and say (1) King was a lucky man to receive such a long run on an A-list iconic character and (2) DC gave him alot of room to tell most of his story...which will conclude in another format. That's much more than many creators get when the winds of change blow them away from projects and publishers. I know the "Corporate= BAD, Creators = Good" is the knee-jerk (or most loudly spoken) opinion on this particular podcast, but those of us somewhere in the middle can sympathize with everyone involved here. King himself seems ready to work with DC on the resolution to his story...so I say "never fear" to the Geeks who were saying King "would never get to finish his story". He is...and he will. Is corporate idiocy a real thing? Of course it is....but it's not always what's behind every development we don't like in the comics biz.
  • Mark_EngblomMark_Engblom Posts: 343
    edited June 7
    PS: Regarding the "100 issues of Batman" thing:

    I'm not a regular Batman reader, so please educate me: Was the "Tom King's 100 issue Batman story" something that DC Comics wholeheartedly embraced and was actively promoting...or was it just something that King himself was saying all this time? If it's the former, then I agree...shame on DC. If it's the latter, then I'm not sure DC deserves the brickbats being thrown its way regarding King's reassignment. Again, in the rapidly evolving (devolving) comics industry, handing someone a 100 issue commitment seems reckless and utterly insane for a publisher to do...and a creator assuming they have a 100 issue commitment from a publisher seems astonishingly presumptuous (to say the least).
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 6,305
    I highly doubt there was a written contract that said, “Tom King will provide scripts for 100 issues of Batman,” but someone had to approve the story Tom was pitching. And he was pitching this as a 100-issue-long story from the very beginning, so there had to have been at the very least a verbal agreement with editorial that this was the end goal, with the understanding that plans could change along the way—because in corporate comics, plans often change along the way, that’s just a given, and every creator knows that going in.

    I don’t think this is all that big a deal. I'm sure Tom is disappointed to some degree, but he is getting to tell his story in its entirety, and he’s getting some Hollywood money to co-write the New Gods movie. He’s still DC’s golden boy, and I’m sure he’ll continue to get his pick of projects for several years to come. Tom will be fine.
  • LeeNovaLeeNova Posts: 12
    edited June 7
    I haven't read Heroes in Crisis, but listening to the gang speak about it was...something. Some interesting mental gymnastics for sure to avoid placing any blame on Tom King. "We hated the story, but it was because of how it was marketed. It can't be Tom's fault." What?

    Look, I loved King's work on The Vision, Omega Men, Mister Miracle, and I've liked what I've read of Batman (up to just before the wedding). But a writer can get stuck in a rut (See: James Robinson on most things after Starman and The Golden Age), and it's probably better to just admit that King lost a bit of his fast ball with Heroes in Crisis (and maybe even Batman lately with what I've heard about the endless "dream" issues).

  • Mark_EngblomMark_Engblom Posts: 343
    edited June 8
    LeeNova said:

    I haven't read Heroes in Crisis, but listening to the gang speak about it was...something. Some interesting mental gymnastics for sure to avoid placing any blame on Tom King. "We hated the story, but it was because of how it was marketed. It can't be Tom's fault." What?

    Though DC's marketing and editorial involvement in the series certainly played a role in the failure of "Heroes in Crisis" (as it ultimately would with any under-performing title), I think we can objectively say that most of the bizarre and confusing elements cited by the Geeks during their discussion boil down to poor storytelling on Tom King's part. For the record, I wasn't as enamored with his "Vision" and "Mister Miracle" stories as so many seemed to be, but at least the mechanics of those stories were sound. "Heroes in Crisis" was just all over the place and full of rookie errors and excess.

    As for the word "Crisis" unfairly amping up expectations for the series, "Identity Crisis" set a precedent that a dark and slower-paced "Whodunnit" by a hotshot writer could use "Crisis" without necessarily triggering a cosmic reset button...and that's exactly what I think they were going for here once again.

  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 286
    edited June 8
    I felt exactly the same way listening to the discussion, @LeeNova. There was a similar discussion around the wedding storyline. I find Tom King brilliant at times myself and think he's earned the benefit of the doubt, but I can't imagine he's thinking "Boy, if only the DC marketing department had made less of a fuss over my mini-series about PTSD, it'd be received in the manner I intended it: interesting but confusing and unsatisfying."

    SPOILERS for Heroes in Crisis: I still don't understand why Wally (or King) thinks why outing - whether they like it or not - what amounts to an AA group of his peers somehow makes up for him accidentally killing a bunch of them. (And temporarily frame Booster and Harley so he can pull this off?) And this idea that everyone who has the speed force somehow lives every moment of their lives worried that they might accidentally forget themselves and kill everyone around them? I'm no Flash expert but I don't recall Wally or Barry ever behaving or thinking like Raven. He was certainly not the character I'm familiar with.

    One revealing thing I had read before the series was released was that King said that he asked DC which characters he could use to do this story and they gave him a list. Which may explain why it seems so out of character.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 6,305
    edited June 8
    Re: Heroes in Crisis, my one problem with the story, as was brought up in the episode, was the decision to make it an EVENT—an “important” story more in terms of how it affects continuity than because it’s a story that deals with a truly important issue. And it’s a major, major problem, because it sucks all the air out of the room for any other discussion. If you take away that one aspect—that superheroes die because of another superhero—maybe people would be talking about what Wally was dealing with—PTSD, the reason Tom wanted to do this story in the first place—rather than what Wally did. Everything else is just minor nitpicks.
  • Mark_EngblomMark_Engblom Posts: 343
    edited June 9

    nweathington said:

    "...my one problem with the story, as was brought up in the episode, was the decision to make it an EVENT—an “important” story more in terms of how it affects continuity than because it’s a story that deals with a truly important issue."

    With so much of the ire focusing on DC marketing, I thought I’d go back and reread the solicitation copy for Heroes In Crisis #1 to refresh my memory on what exactly it was they were promoting (from the DC Comics website):

    ”There’s a new kind of crisis threatening the heroes of the DC Universe, ripped from real-world headlines by C.I.A.-operative-turned-comics-writer Tom King: How does a superhero handle PTSD?

    Welcome to Sanctuary, an ultra-secret hospital for superheroes who’ve been traumatized by crime-fighting and cosmic combat. But something goes inexplicably wrong when many patients wind up dead, with two well-known operators as the prime suspects: Harley Quinn and Booster Gold! It’s up to the DC Trinity of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman to investigate—but can they get the job done in the face of overwhelming opposition?”

    I don’t see anything in there that hints the story would be a continuity-affecting EVENT in any way, and even goes so far as to say this is “a new kind of crisis”, which I take to mean it’s not intended to be one of the continuity-focused cosmic disasters we've become accustomed to. Sure, as Shane noted, the “DC Trinity” disappeared a little ways into the story, but for the most part, the premise put forth in the marketing lined up pretty well with what the series ultimately set out to do. I don’t think it succeeded in doing that, but I don’t think the blame can credibly be laid at the feet of DC marketing.

  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 6,305

    nweathington said:

    "...my one problem with the story, as was brought up in the episode, was the decision to make it an “EVENT”—an “important” story more in terms of how it affects continuity than because it’s a story that deals with a truly important issue."

    With so much of the ire focusing on DC marketing, I thought I’d go back and reread the solicitation copy for Heroes In Crisis #1 to refresh my memory on what exactly it was they were promoting (from the DC Comics website):

    “There’s a new kind of crisis threatening the heroes of the DC Universe, ripped from real-world headlines by C.I.A.-operative-turned-comics-writer Tom King: How does a superhero handle PTSD?

    Welcome to Sanctuary, an ultra-secret hospital for superheroes who’ve been traumatized by crime-fighting and cosmic combat. But something goes inexplicably wrong when many patients wind up dead, with two well-known operators as the prime suspects: Harley Quinn and Booster Gold! It’s up to the DC Trinity of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman to investigate—but can they get the job done in the face of overwhelming opposition?”

    I don't see anything in there that hints the story would be a continuity-affecting EVENT in any way, and even goes so far as to say this is “a new kind of crisis”, which I take to mean it’s not intended to be one of the continuity-focused cosmic disasters we’ve become accustomed to. Sure, as Shane noted, the “DC Trinity” disappeared a little ways into the story, but for the most part, the premise put forth in the marketing lined up pretty well with what the series ultimately set out to do. I don't think it succeeded in doing that, but I don't think the blame can credibly be laid at the feet of DC marketing

    Maybe “event” was the wrong word to use, as it has specific connotations these days. What I mean was they tried to make the miniseries required reading by having heroes die, with another hero responsible for those deaths, rather than simply make a story about PTSD. I wasn’t commenting on the marketing of the book at all, I’m just talking about the effectiveness of the story. I don’t know if the deaths/cover-up was Tom’s idea all along, or if he was compelled to work that in by editorial or someone higher up the chain, but whatever the case it undermined the point of the story.
  • Mark_EngblomMark_Engblom Posts: 343
    edited June 10

    Pertaining specifically to the very serious problem of PTSD itself, Wally's dangerous and wildly irresponsible behavior may have added to the unfair perception that people suffering from PTSD are irrational time bombs just waiting to go off. While that's sadly the case for a percentage of sufferers, many more suffer in ways that don't necessarily involve hurting themselves or others while they deal with it. "Heroes in Crisis", to its credit, certainly touched on those quieter ways of suffering, primarily through the various superhero "video confessionals", but Wally's "accidental rampage" seemed to overshadow all the teachable moments those more subdued examples of PTSD provided. Wally's bizarre confession that all speedsters constantly worry about their abilities accidentally hurting and killing those around them seemed like a thinly-veiled metaphor from King regarding real world soldiers and operatives....which isn't a full or fair understanding of such a multifaceted psychological issue.

    I get it....superhero comics need dramatic moments to propel a story...but I don't think this setting was the ideal place to explore the very real and complex problems of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It not only seemed to minimize the problem by pushing it far into the background, but also distorted it by playing up the stereotype of the vulnerable warrior who's one bad day away from snapping and mowing down his friends. I would think King would know better.

  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 6,305
    edited June 11
    To be fair, Wally didn’t really rampage or mow down anybody. He was on his knees—a position of vulnerability—the whole time. I think more than emphasizing the actions of a PTSD sufferer who “snapped”, the scene specifically emphasized the mental and emotional state of that sufferer in those circumstances. Wally is the center of the panel, with the other heroes scattered around the edges of the panel. He is literally surrounded by people, but still alone. But because people die, it certainly leaves it open to your interpretation.
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